Donate to Hurricane Laura Relief
The Mutual Aid Response Network is a group of Louisiana residents, led by Imagine Water Works, that activates during floods, storms, and other natural and manmade disasters. We are part of a larger network of organizers across the Deep South, connected through Project South and the Southern Movement Assembly.
All donations to this fund will go directly to Southwest Louisiana, supporting relief efforts in the wake of Hurricane Laura.
IMPORTANT UPDATE: As of 9/9/20, you all have donated $62,000 for individuals most impacted by Hurricane Laura. We are now closing this part of the fund as we continue distributing your donations directly to individuals from Southwest Louisiana. Any additional funds raised will now go toward both immediate and longer term Hurricane Laura Relief and Recovery efforts, led by Imagine Water Works. See updates below for more information.
Our commitment for the usage of funds:
- We will keep the total donation amount public — you'll know exactly how much has been raised.
- As we regrant/utilize the funds, we will share exactly where the money is going.
- We will prioritize the funding, leadership, and safety of BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color).
- We will not be utilizing any of this funding to support our time or our organization (Update 9/9: Capped at $62k, with additional funds going to support immediate and longer term BIPOC-led recovery efforts).
NOTE: If you would like to make a tax deductible donation to our work, checks can be mailed to our nonprofit fiscal sponsor, Project South (EIN: 581956686). In the MEMO field, include "Imagine Water Works: Hurricane Laura Relief".
9/15: Whew, we've been busy preparing both New Orleanians and evacuated folks for Hurricane Sally. We received an update this morning that Sally would not hit New Orleans — we're grateful but staying in touch with our partners in Mississippi and Alabama. We've also been working on our next large disbursement of relief funds and will be excited to provide an update next week (or sooner if possible!). In the meantime we've helped Cathy, a hairstylist who evacuated here from Lake Charles, set up a temporary salon within her shelter to provide free haircuts to others while there. In Cathy's words, "It just makes you feel normal, makes you forget about everything going on back at home for a little while."
We've worked with Home Depot to secure chainsaws, buckets, bleach, box fans, extension cords, and other supplies to help folks clean out their homes once they're able to return. And we have a shipment of 3,000 brand new socks on the way! We're doing our best to secure supplies and resources that aren't typically covered in traditional disaster relief. Many thanks to everyone who has helped along the way.
9/9: When Hurricane Laura made landfall and we launched this fund, we were told that there would be 800 people evacuated to New Orleans. We are now up to 12,000 people (officially) and growing. As such, we are capping the direct regranting portion of the fund at $62,000 to focus on adding much-needed immediate and long term support for folks evacuated here to the city. Any additional funds raised will go toward general costs such as printing flyers, expanding our 24/7 crisis response team, and supporting our overall work on Hurricane Laura Relief and Recovery. We are the only local BIPOC and trans-led disaster relief group on the ground for the 12,000+ people who need services right now in New Orleans. We're also led by multi-generational native New Orleanians who went through Hurricane Katrina and know what it's like to be displaced; we bring that care to our work. The situation is dire and we still need your help. In the last week alone, we have fact-checked and facilitated over 5,000 interactions in our online mutual aid group — this does not account for all of the DMs, text messages, phone calls, VOAD meetings, and in-person actions that have been happening simultaneously. We do this transparently and welcome anyone to check out the group to see who we are and how it works. We also post a steady stream of screenshots and photos on our social media platforms if you're looking for even more frequent, detailed updates!
9/8: Wow, thank you all so much for the support! We have been incredibly busy, but please know that we see you out there helping folks and supporting our work. It means the world to us. This week we worked with individuals, nonprofits, and small businesses to collect and deliver 1,000 bags to the Resource Center. The Resource Center sees about 500 people per day, so the bag donation drive is still going — if you're in New Orleans, check out our Facebook or Instagram to find the drop-off locations (Lower 9th Ward, West Bank, Mid-City, and Magazine). The mutual aid group is also picking up excess food and bringing it to hotel shelters with less food, stocking community fridges, dropping off microwaves and mini fridges, doing laundry for folks, delivering specific hygiene products, brooms, vacuums, and more. We're dropping off cleaning supplies now because the hotel shelters (1) are not cleaning the rooms and (2) do not offer cleaning products for folks to do it themselves. Tonight's heartwarming moment was when a mother asked for help baking her kid a birthday cake — he's going to have so many awesome cakes now! It's been amazing to watch folks step up for each other in so many ways. All of it is important.
9/7: When the government shut down the Resource Center for three days in a row, we stayed open. That means we are one of the only places where folks can ask questions and receive support right now. We'll be in touch again soon with more details! In the meantime, you can always stay in touch and see what we're doing on a daily basis via our Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter.
9/1: We now have 9,200 people staying in 30 shelters/hotels, which means likely more than 10,000 people sheltering in the City right now. Additional people are now being directed to go to the "mega shelter" in Alexandria, Louisiana. Yesterday, we collected and dropped off bags at the Resource Center so that folks wouldn't have to carry supplies back to their hotels in their arms. If you have bags to spare, check out our social media channels for places to drop them. If you live in New Orleans, you're invited to join us in the Imagine Mutual Aid Facebook group — people who have evacuated are asking for exactly what they need. This is a chance to deliver it to them. Lots of needs getting met, including strollers, specific clothing items, and other mobility devices. Some requests still need more support. More requests are coming in. Given the increased numbers from when we first launched the Hurricane Laura Relief Fund, we've increased the fundraising goal to $100,000.
8/31: Photo update. Top image (Reuters): Two individuals from our "Street Team", talking with folks and helping them log into the mutual aid group so that they can ask for what they need. Bottom image (Imagine Water Works): Piles of clothing on the ground. For safety and accessibility reasons, we are asking folks to respond *directly to requests from individuals* instead of dropping off boxes of donations. People deserve the right to state their own needs, and they deserve to have things handed to them — not to pick it up off a street. We have a solution to that. More about that can be found on our Facebook post here.
8/30: We are now at 6000 people staying in hotels across the city. Yesterday we gathered more volunteers and prepped our 3,100 member New Orleans mutual aid group for a large influx of requests. Today we printed 1000 additional flyers (see below) and are on the frontlines, walking the streets: listening, offering emotional support, noting immediate needs and barriers, continuing to direct folks to our Mutual Aid group to receive support, and helping folks get into the group. The group is a platform for people to state their own needs, instead of having others speak for them. Those who are most impacted deserve a voice and a say in where funding goes and what supplies they receive — free of judgment. And they deserve to be met with care and compassion.
8/29: Received confirmation that more than 3000 people have now evacuated to New Orleans. We expect to see at least double that as more make their way here. We are working with shelter organizers to respond to needs as they come in. The Fund will continue sending half of its donations directly to groups led by BIPOC Southwestern LA residents once they are ready to receive them. Half the funds are remaining here in New Orleans to support those who have evacuated + long term needs as they arise and as funds allow. Right now, the best thing to do is still to donate directly to small local organizations — whether that be us or others.
8/28: We've sent our first $5000 to the Atakapa-Ishak Nation, whose territory spans both Southwest Louisiana (The Sunrise People) and Southeast Texas (The Sunset People). Thank you so much for supporting the fund and making this possible! We have also received confirmation that at least 2000 people are sheltering in New Orleans right now. We have delivered 700 flyers to the three hotel shelters in New Orleans, directing folks to our Mutual Aid group to receive support. As the need is large and growing, both in SW LA and in New Orleans, we've increased our fundraising goal to $50,000.
8/28: We are in contact with local groups and individuals on the ground as they get their footing, gather their people, and in some cases are sheltering. Please be patient. Funding those most impacted means giving them a moment to gather their thoughts and see where the need is. Disaster funding often goes to large, non-local groups because the waiting period feels uncomfortable. We are challenging this default and moving forward with intention and care, following local BIPOC leadership.
8/27: So far, we have also received $485 through Venmo to add to the total above. At the moment, much of Southwest Louisiana (SW LA) is still very much a "disaster area" with chemical spills, evacuation traffic, and dangerous roads. We are encouraging individuals from outside of SW LA to stay put — roads are closed and emergency personnel need to be able to do their jobs, focusing on the local community. We are assessing the situation and working with hyper-local BIPOC partners to send funds to SW LA as soon as possible.
8/26: The fund's first $100 went to a family on Pecan Island who missed the last evacuation bus and needed baby formula, gas, and transmission fluid to be able to emergency evacuate to Baton Rouge.
8/25: Hurricane Laura is expected to be a Category 4 when it makes landfall in Southwestern Louisiana this week. Knowing this, we are getting ready + encouraging folks outside of Laura's direct path to support relief efforts as the situation evolves. This fund, in particular, was created in our "Imagine Mutual Aid: COVID + Hurricane Season (New Orleans)" group as one way to direct resources from New Orleans (and beyond!) to those who will be most impacted by the storm.
More about the organizers:
Imagine Water Works, based out of New Orleans since 2012, is reimagining the future through art, science, and connection. Our core focus areas are water management, climate justice, and disaster readiness and response. We value transparency — as such, you can learn all about our core teammates on our website here.
Our other current projects:
Imagine Mutual Aid (Facebook: New Orleans & Houma)
COVID-19 Guide to Hurricane Season
Trans Clippers Project
Queer/Trans Guide to Hurricane Season
Anonymous Storm Prep Q&A (Instagram)
Art of Science / Science of Art Symposium
Little Library of Water
WaterMark News Briefing
Business Survival Handbook
Joy of Water: A Resident's DIY Guide to Becoming Water Wise
Learn more about any of the projects above on our website: www.imaginewaterworks.org